"When you formulate with the different notes, it really makes a more well-rounded perfume," says Rodgers. "It's like when you have perfect harmony. It's just balanced and beautiful."
The strong but fleeting top note provides first impressions, the base note anchors the scent and the middle note gives it heft; Griffin calls it the "heart" of the perfume.
Perfumes made with plant-based essential oils are more delicate than fragrances sold at stores, says Rodgers, explaining that commercially made fragrances are generally derived from synthetic oils, whose scents last longer.
Perfumes derived from essential oils need to be reapplied throughout the day. They last longer when applied to clothing than to skin, says Griffin, who offers advice on essential oils at her blog, Overthrow Martha. She also posts her favorite concocted scents.
Rodgers uses the book "Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art" (Crossing Press; 2008), co-authored by Mindy Green, a guest instructor at Rebecca's. The book lists essential oils by their "note."
For example, Rodgers says, for a top note, look at grapefruit, tangerine, orange and bergamot — her citrus favorites. (Bergamot flavors Earl Grey tea.) She recommends rose, lavender, chamomile and geranium as attractive middle notes, and sandalwood, cedarwood, patchouli and the strong, earthy vetiver for base notes.
There are dozens of other essential oils in all three categories. Visit Aroma Web for a comprehensive look at essential oils and how to blend them.
Rodgers also recommends buying Australian sandalwood rather than that from India, where conservationists say sandalwood is over-harvested and endangered.
Remember that fragrant essential oils change one another when combined — and enjoy that discovery.
"It's amazing how something changes when you start formulating," says Rodgers. "How you can create this new, exciting smell."
The recipe: Sherri's #3
Clean glass bottle for mixing, preferably dark (or store it in a dark place while the perfume settles)